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Call for Papers: Comparative Population Studies Special Issue

Identification of causal mechanisms in demographic research: The contribution of panel data

The aim of the Special Issue is to demonstrate and scrutinize the analytical potential of panel methods in investigating causal mechanisms in demographic research. 

During the last 20 years a plethora of panel surveys has been conducted and the development of refined statistical tools making use of the advantages of panel data considerably improved causal analysis of individual behaviour. Panel data allow to follow behavioural processes on the micro level, i.e. in individual life courses, not only with regard to structural-objective information but also with respect to subjective information like life satisfaction or attitudes towards behavioural issues. They provide insights in the temporal order of events and activities over the life course and allow the modelling of quasi-experimental designs and treatment effects to be estimated in a proper way. Differentiating between cohort and age effects on individual life courses is supported. Not the least, fixed-effects models account for (‘differencing out’) effects of unobserved confounders in regression models and, therefore, help estimating unbiased ‘causal’ effects of theoretically relevant factors, e.g. treatments, in regression models. 

Therefore, panel analyses of behavioural dynamics over the life course promise to provide a great opportunity to identify unbiased effects of causal mechanisms driving individual behaviour and decision making. They allow to identify causal misconceptions due to inadequate statistical modelling – particularly regarding the interdependence between individual behaviour, its motivations, and its subjective outcomes. Meanwhile, it is well accepted in social research that panel data are indispensable as the empirical basis for causal inference in social science. Collecting and analysing panel data today is also standard in demographic research, e.g. studies on fertility, regional mobility, and mortality. A large number of respective analyses has been conducted enriching our knowledge on individual decision making considerably. In this Special Issue, we would like to show how far we went, how panel analysis considerably contributed to a better understanding of demographic processes, and to which extent the promises of panel analysis have been fulfilled. 

We welcome submissions of research papers presenting exemplary panel studies and ideally demonstrate how panel analysis can help in avoiding false causal conclusions. The studies should focus on one of the main fields of demographic research, i.e.  

  • nuptiality/fertility/family dynamics; 
  • morbidity/mortality; 
  • migration/spatial mobility. 

Special Issue Editors 

Josef Brüderl, Institute for Sociology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Konradstr. 6, 80801 München, E-Mail: bruederl [at] 

Johannes Huinink, SOCIUM - Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, Research Area "Life Course, Life Course Policy, and Social Integration", University of Bremen, Mary-Somerville-Straße 9, 28359 Bremen; Managing Editor (2020), Comparative Population Studies, E-Mail: huinink [at]



Comparative Population Studies  

CPoS is a peer-reviewed open access journal and member of the Emerging Sources Citation Index (SNIP 2016=0,358; Scimago Journal: 1.13 citations per document (2 years)). English language editing is available, if necessary. No fees are charged to authors. Website:  


Potential contributors are requested to send us a short abstract (<300 words) by February 29, 2020, which helps us in planning the Special Issue. Nevertheless, a paper may be submitted without having sent an abstract. Please, send the abstract to the Managing Editor, at CPoS [at]  


Access the CPoS website: Register by creating an account and following the instructions given. Submit the Paper (<8000 words) by July 31, 2020 to the Managing Editor via the website or by emailing it to CPoS [at] 


Review of Papers August – October, 2020  

Revision of Paper  

Submit revision by December 31, 2020  


Publication in Spring 2021  

Online, Open Access, no fees 

Target number of papers sought  

We anticipate publishing between 6 and 9 papers in the Special Issue. CPoS will publish papers as accepted.